Jeewan Chanicka, 40, school principal
Chanicka was born in Calgary and did his ECE in Trinidad and Tobago, where his parents are from. The Pickering resident and father of three, 19, 14 and 5, became the principal of a public elementary school in Markham two years ago.
How would you describe yourself?
I became a Muslim at the age of 11. Half of my family is Hindu and the other half is Christian.
What is something people find surprising about you?
A lot of people are often surprised by the many varied experiences that I’ve had and the things I’ve done in my life, ranging from experiencing the joy of island life in Trinidad, snorkelling with sharks in the Indian Ocean, climbing Mount Merapi. I ran a marathon in the Swiss Alps because I don’t like running.
Have you ever faced discrimination?
I’ve been taken off a plane for no reason and had security officers laugh at me about it, and I had no recourse. Most recently near where we live, there was hate graffiti against Muslims and Islam. The front window of a local mosque was shot.
What do you think non-Muslim Torontonians most need to know about Muslims?
Don’t believe everything you see on prime-time TV. Count how many shows and movies over the past few years there have been in which Muslims are the terrorists coming to get you. I worry mostly for kids and marginalized people from within our community.